First time in a Canada Cup event (or 'A' meet)?

Wondering what is so different, how to choose from so many courses, what will happen differently from a regular local meet?  This page is written for you. Hopefully this will answer most of your questions, put your mind to rest and let you enjoy the day.

What is a Canada Cup Event?

A Canada Cup Event (previously known as an "A" Meet) , is a major meet sanctioned by Orienteering Canada and is part of a series of such major meets. They are required to follow certain guidelines. It is a meet that all top competitive orienteers try to attend to earn their spot on our Canadian team. However, there is still a full range of age categories and open categories for all ages and abilities. The event is run on a map that is either new or quite old and recently updated.  This, as well as other factors, will increase the entry costs.

I'm a novice. Why should I take part?

Why not? There are courses suitable for all levels. As long as you select the right course for your abilities, you will enjoy the event every bit as much as your local meet and then some. You will get caught up in the enthusiasm of others, meet folks from across the country (and other countries), see the top runners and get caught up in the excitement of close finishes.

I don't know what category or course to select .. How do I choose?

If you are an experienced orienteer, comfortable running the advanced course at your local meet, you might want to select the category that matches your age. All courses from course 4 up are of an advanced level. However, you may want to have a look at the typical lengths of these courses and select one that matches your fitness level. The 'Open' classes are aligned with the courses. So, for example, Open 3 runs course 3, not competing with the categories assigned to course 3 but with others who chose Open 3. The Open categories are not truly competitive. Instead, they give you the opportunity to try a course suitable to your abilities. Here is a short description of the various courses for the long distance event:

  • Course 1 - entirely on trails, designed for young children and novice participants

  • Course 2 - for the experienced novice or early intermediate - much trail running but some off trail controls. May make use of fence lines, streams, forest or field boundaries instead of trails. You should

    • understand 'handrails', 'attack points' ,

    • be able to judge rough distance and use rough compass readings

    • be able to make a route choice between a couple easy choices

    • be able to recover from an error by backtracking to last known point

    • understand IOF control descriptions - those standard pictures of features on your control sheet

  • Course 3 - intermediate difficulty and longer distance (maybe 4 km). You should:

    • run the intermediate level courses at your local meets with some success

    • know how to 'aim off'

    • follow a compass bearing but avoid parallel errors

    • make route choices (according to your personal strengths and weaknesses)

  • Course 4 and above - are all advanced courses with much more off trail navigation and more complex route choices. Distances and difficulties increase the higher the course from ~4 km to 12km. Generally, there are not Open classes available for the longest 2 or 3 courses.

OK, I've decided what course I will be running, how do I prepare for the run?

  • Read the course setters notes that are published the week prior to the meet.  In them you will find information about the type of terrain to expect, any special features on the map that you might not be familiar with, how far the start is from the arena or parking.

  • Note your start time from the published start list (a few days before the event), know your class and your course.

  • Pick up your registration kit well before your start time, allowing time for a possible line-up, time to hike to the start - this could be 30 min. or more,- time to visit the portapotties (line-ups again possible), time to change clothing and shoes as needed and time to gather your needed equipment - SI card, compass, whistle, bib if used, whatever else you like to have with you.

  • Head out to the start planning to arrive at least 10 minutes before your assigned start time.  Start times may be indicated as minutes after the first start or as clock time.

Why should I be at the start at least 10 minutes before my start time?

  • When you arrive at the start you should first clear and check your SI card.

  • Next check the clock at the start to see what their timing is - and how much time you have yet before you will be called up to the start line

  • You will be called up to the start line 3 minutes before your actual clock start time and the clock at the call-up line will be running three minutes fast to accommodate that.

I've been called to the start line - what happens now?

  • Start officials will check your name and SI number to see that you are supposed to start at that time. They may also confirm that you have a whistle.

  • After a minute, you will progress from the first staging line to the second where you will punch a check box to record that you have approached the start. You can also, there, pick up a control description sheet for your course– this is in addition to the sheet printed on your map. Folks often attach this control sheet to their sleeve for quicker viewing. You might have a control description sheet holder or simply use clear tape (often provided) to have it taped to your arm or sleeve.

  • But you don't have a map yet!  You will get this at the third staging line one minute later.  You may be asked to write your name or bib number on the back of your map. Don't yet look at the map. Show it to a start official to be sure it is the map number it should be - you did remember which course you are running?  Here you may also receive further verbal instructions about the location of the start triangle - often another 50 -100 metres or so down a trail.

  • At the next whistle (3 minutes after you entered the start chute) you are officially started.  Now you can look at your map and start on your way.  Be sure to find the start triangle on the map and relate it to the start in the terrain (marked either with a big triangle on the ground or with a regular orienteering flag).  Don't run off without knowing where you are and where you want to go.  The excitement of the start can be the greatest undoing of many.

  • When visiting controls be extra careful to check the control number.  There are 10 courses out there so just becasue you find a control, it doesn't mean it is yours.

Oops!  I am late to the start - what do I do now?

  • Clear and check your SI card

  • Report to the start chief and follow instructions.  You will most likely be charged for the time you are late but carry on forgetting about that and just run your event as best you can.

I am done - finished the race or just plain finished!

  • A Canada Cup or  'A' meet always has a 'Go control' as the last control before the finish line.  It will be only 1-200 metres from the finish and the route from it to the finish will be flagged in some fashion.  Run from the Go control to the finish control, punch it, then proceed to the download area.  You may be required to hand in your map at this time.  (You will be able to collect it later after the last runner has started.  There will be an announcement.) 

  • Download and collect your timesheet.  If you rented an SI Card and this is your last race in the event, return your SI card, otherwise keep it for your next race. 

  • Now visit the post race food table to refill the furnace. 

  • Relax and enjoy yourself.  Cheer on your friends and clubmates as they come in to the finish, compare notes about your race with others. Enjoy the day.

  • Canadian team members and top foreign runners of 17-34 years old - will likely be starting near the end of the "start window" so you will likely be able to watch these top athletes as they run through a spectator leg and later come through the finish chute.